19 August 2014

Daily Work Search Reviews

One of the support options for the long term unemployed announced by George Osborne back in September 2013 was daily visits to a job centre.  This has now been the reality for some claimants for a few months now in the form of "Daily Work Search Reviews". The guidance gives examples of claimants who may be suitable:
  • claimants who need additional support with their jobsearch activities, which the Work Coach believes will be best provided by Daily WSR. This may include following up job applications and interviews, identifying and addressing issues such as skills gaps
  • claimants who have reasonable levels of work experience but may lack the level of motivation required to seek out employment opportunities or pursue options for improving their employment prospects
  • claimants who have a history of poor timekeeping in terms of attending interviews at the Jobcentre. The timekeeping requirements of Daily WSR would improve claimant's discipline and understanding of the importance of timekeeping in a work environment
This might be reasonable but I found something rather curious in the detailed design of  DWSR. Also from the guidance

61. Daily WSR times must vary on each day Monday to Friday; this varied pattern is then repeated for 4 consecutive weeks (i.e. the attendance time must be different for each day of the week but in each 4 week block the time on a particular day will be consistent).

63.The timetable must be changed every 4 weeks; the exception being that the revised timetable issued at week 8 can run for 5 weeks (i.e. until the end of the Daily WSR period).

It's difficult to see how this detail helps review jobseeking activities. As a lesson in timekeeping it seems a bit OTT for those who hope to get a 9-5 job. It offers a good chance of a sanction though when the jobseeker gets confused!

Naturally, I've been asking about the intent of the design but have yet to get a good answer 

I have found a big clue though. An obvious use of this regime is to disrupt a claimant who may be working on the side and the following paragraph hints at it:

19. Check the Customer Information System (CIS) to determine if the claimant has a Fraud Referral and Intervention Management System (FRAIMS) indicator present. If so, the Fraud and Error Service (FES) must be contacted for further advice before any decision to assign the claimant to Daily Work Search Review (WSR).

This paragraph seems to be unique to Daily Work Search Reviews. I think the intent is to frustrate fraudsters working on the side who have not yet been detected. Those already being investigated may be allowed to continue until there's enough evidence.

Of course, for the honest claimant it's a hassle but that has never worried the Jobcentre,

Update 19-Aug-14: I finally got some sort of answer.

The first interesting part was where I’d suggested DWP ask the author of paragraphs 61 and 63 for the thinking behind the variable timing aspect. They answered:

“We do not hold information on who wrote sections 61 and 63 of the Help to Work guidance”

Maybe that’s usual in the Civil Service but it seems odd to me. In many workplaces it’s normal to keep a note of who did what and why. Then, when the next person comes along and considers removing something or making a change, they do it the knowledge of why things were done the way they were. (My favourite example of the importance of records is this)

They do offer some information on the intent of making claimants turn up on a complicated timetable for their Work Search Reviews

"Information about the intent of the variable timing aspect can be found at paragraph 48. It lists claimants who may be suitable for daily work search reviews. One of the groups mentioned are

“Claimants who have a history of poor timekeeping in terms of attending interviews at the Jobcentre. The timekeeping requirements of Daily WSR would improve claimant's discipline and understanding of the importance of timekeeping in a work environment”.

This doesn’t really wash because the other groups are mentioned are those lacking motivation and those needing additional support. How are they helped by this? Also note this guidance:

"49. Key considerations for Work Coaches in determining a claimant’s suitability for Daily WSR must include:

  • whether the claimant is likely to be able to understand and cope with daily variation in attendance times"

 So, to qualify for this lesson in timekeeping, you must be bad at it but not actually incapable (E.G.: Due to mental health issues)

My conclusion

The reason the timing of DWSR is as difficult as it is may well be due to an initial idea to disrupt those working on the side or to frustrate claimants off benefits and hit sanction targets. However, to be lawful, all interventions by the Jobcentre are supposed to be helpful so something benign had to be documented.

I may now move on to investigate paragraph 19 mentioned above.

See also the (lack of ) evidence fro DWSR being effective.

(Original version published 19/07/2014 20:18)

1 comment:

Stephen Millman said...

It also says in the guidance that the daily signing on is supposed to be for a maximum of 13 weeks however I have a friend whom has been doing Daily Sign on's for roughly 9 months now.
I am really struggling to find official information as to how and why they can do this against there own guide lines. I was on the daily signing program for roughly 15 weeks. I am trying to help my friend build a watertight case so it is stopped.
If anyone knows of any official websites or FOI requests that would help then please post them, thanks.